Mon 13 Apr 2009
NB: As soon as Yelp sees this, they will be working on fixing these specific errors, which is fine.Â The point is that these exist… endlessly… throughout the site, and these were just the obvious ones I cataloged in a few hours.
I was so pleased to see a 2 star review disappear from one of my client’s pages today… one that sponsors yelp.Â I doubt that means anything, because the below problem looks as if it follows zero rhyme or reason.Â This looks like that algorithm really does have a secret aspect about it…. that it is irrevocably flawed.
So… this isn’t about yelp being unethical.Â This isn’t about deliberate unethical behavior.Â All Jeremy Stoppleman seems to do is look for blogs, waiting to defensively react against criticism… usually ending with the incredibly vapid “it’s the algorithm and it’s secret” argument.Â But really, that’s harmless.
However, that argument might not hold water anymore guys.Â Below is an afternoon of research, and it is hardly complete.Â This could go on forever.Â Hopefully… you will recognize that this is enough proof that the integrity of yelp, and it’s functionality, is endlessly flawed.Â This is about a faulty algorithm, no more no less.Â The below links are all too self explanatory…. pointing out profiles with reviews that are suppressed from business pages.Â Whether or not it is about “maintaining the integrity of yelp” as they so often suggest is moot….
These are real people, and real reviews.Â In the below documentation, I have often countered the suppressed review of a certain business by highlighting a reviewer that has a nearly similar profile that actually *has* a review posted.Â What that means is that many of the profiles that have suppressed reviews are no different from reviews that are posted on the site (sometimes no avatar/pic, sometimes very few reviews, sometimes long periods between reviews)
Many of the arguments against the below research will be:
1) that they don’t have a picture…. but many of the posted reviews do not have a pic as well.Â You have to start out with a fresh profile at some point.Â If they aren’t giving a voice to people, why would anyone finish updating a profile anyway.
2) Yelp is protecting against “one hit wonders”…. but that won’t stand up, in that many of those people have completed profiles with many reviews that are totally legitimate.Â What’s more, some businesses pages have multiple one hit wonders, just to have one of those suppressed?
I also find it interesting that, after a person voices concern on a talk thread…. the reviews magically appear.Â I am not suggesting that yelp is reviewing talk threads and acting accordingly when people bring this issue up, but look for yourself…. seems a lot of the voiced reviewers’ concerns have been placated since the beginning of those threads.Â I guess it is tantamount to yelp having the mistake brought to it’s attention, and fixing that error.Â Admitting that the algorithm is flawed is one thing… but having to constantly correct and second guess, or act as oversite, sort of lessens any integrity or trust I had in the site.Â If I have to sit and think about whether it is honest, or whether it can be trusted… well isn’t that a problem?Â Many yelpers I have spoken with don’t think so.Â You decide.
I have also supplied links to other talk threads where people are simply confused about flagged reviews, or why their review was taken down or isn’t showing.Â I added some confused businesses to boot.
If this is your algorithm yelp, you have built your business on one of the most flawed I have seen.Â Just my two cents.Â If real reviews by real people is what this is all about, yelp has some serious explaining to do about the incredible flaw in their model.Â I don’t think this is fixable, and I don’t think they can defend it.
Frankly, I love yelp.Â I hope they can.Â I think they may want to start.Â I knew this wasn’t out and out unethical behaviour… it was just a deeply flawed model.
If you have any odd situations like this…. a review on your profile not existing on a business page, or confusion of the lack of transparency or communication on yelp’s part… let it be heard.
I may be way, way off on this.Â But the below is interesting to me.Â I hope it is for you as well.Â While we wait for transparency, communication, openness, earnestness, and any ounce of interest in clearing up the confusion… Jeremy will pop into any conversation acting defensive and contradictory.Â Instead of being defensive and having to always manage bad press… why not just fix it?
Funny that yelp helped destroy the original marketing model so you can no longer damage control or control any “message”…. which is precisely what yelp is retroactively doing when things like this come up.
I have said it before… you need to be an ethical business that consumers identify with, and have an ethos that draws people to “opt-in” to your offering… and not trick people into thinking you are something you are not.Â If you aren’t ethical, or you aren’t run well… people will find out.
It’s possible that yelp is both.